8229 U.S. Hwy 59
Wharton, Texas 77488
Reviewed by: Michael Alanis (Corpus Christi, TX)
As a 42 year old guy, there are only a few BBQ places that I can say “I’ve been to since I was little”. One of those is Hinze’s Bar-B-Q in Wharton, Texas.
I still remember the trips from S. Texas to Houston on Hwy 59. It was a treat when we rounded the corner and I could see Bar-B-Q sign. I knew it was time for lunch and that we were going to stop. Boy, those memories are still vivid in my mind.
Well that memory was a reality for me this past weekend, as we made our first trip (by car) to Houston in over 3 years. On the way home I told my wife and kids that “lunch” was going to be Hinze’s Bar-B-Q, and so it was.
As we pulled up on a Sunday afternoon, the parking lot was full as was the drive thru lane. While pressed for time, I wanted to go inside and take a look around. I needed to see that “tree” growing inside the building again. It had amazed me as a kid and I wanted to see how much it had grown. I know I sure had.
The line was out the door and folks were waiting patiently for their turn at one of the order takers. I studied the menu but already knew that we wanted brisket and ribs. What more can you want? For some reason, I watch what folk’s order, just so I can get a sense of who is a local and who is a tourist. Most of the people in front of me didn’t need a menu and ordered right away. When I heard “how does this work?” I knew they were “newbies”. It can be different at places that sell by the pound and those who sell plates, so I understand. I watched the employees walk back and forth, shuffling plates, adding sides and most importantly, serving the brisket and the meats.
Finally it was my turn. “Brisket and Ribs plates to go” I said. While sides aren’t really too important to me, I asked for beans, potato salad and green beans. Yes, you get three sides at Hinze’s. I paid for the meals and got my drink, sweet tea of course. Now, like most BBQ places you can order the meat by the pound, at a great price I might add.
I took time out to walk around the dining room. It still looks the same as I can remember it. The trees growing inside still are cool to look at, and so are the photos and “cartoons” on the wall. During my wait, I got to speak to the owner Mike Hinze. I had watched him orchestrate the employees for some time and wanted to let him know that I had been trying to get Hinze’s added to the Texas Monthly BBQ App. He was very appreciative and genuinely kind.
My order number was called and I picked up my plates to go. Out the door I was.
In the truck the kids and my wife were anxious to taste this “BBQ” I had raved about for so long. It didn’t take long before everyone was digging in.
I’ve always enjoyed Hinze’s Bar-B-Q and today was no different. As I looked at my plate and meat, I could see that it was fresh, moist and tender. I started out with the brisket. It had a nice crust with plenty of pepper as the main rub. The smoke ring wasn’t as thick as some like but you could smell the smoke. You could also see that it was moist and tender, yet kept it’s consistency. The brisket smelled and looked delicious. It was. The taste of the spices, mixed in with the right amount of smoke made for a super brisket. No sauce needed on this plate!
The ribs were also spiced just right with pepper. Clearly they are cooked to perfection with just a bit of top crust, as I call it, that they have a bit of a “crunch” as you take a bite. I will say that the ribs are a bit small, but they make up for it in taste. The ribs were the first to go on everyone’s plate. The kids even asked for more. Yes, they are that good. The two-meat plate is plentiful and very good for the price.
As for sides, I gave them a taste. The potato salad was very sweet and to my liking. The pinto beans and green beans were good as well.
I’ve traveled to many BBQ places in the last few months looking for great brisket, sausage and ribs. I knew that a trip back to Hinze’s would not disappoint and I was right. So if you are on Hwy 59 near Wharton, do yourself a favor and stop on in and take a bite. I am sure that you will enjoy the BBQ. They’ve been making it right for over 37 years now.
P.S. The “tree” is also cool to look at.